See pictures from Joe’s recent events on his Facebook page here
Starting on Jan 18th of this year I’ve been able to be a part of an amazing series of performances in San Francisco and New York celebrating the lives and music of some of the grand masters of Jazz, folks that have inspired me to become the creative musician I am today.
I had the honor to be a part of SFJazz's 5th Season Gala Week along with Zakir Hussain, Joshua Redman, Terence Blanchard, Mary Stallings, Bill Frisell, Stefon Harris, Cindy Blackman Santana, Eric Harland, John Santos, Kronos Quartet and The SFJazz Collective. It was a beautiful series of concerts and celebrations that will live in the memories of everyone that took part in the music and those who were in attendance.
The first night, a celebration of Zakir Hussein, was a very spiritual way to kick off the week for me. I had a chance to play my composition "Blackwell's Message" with Josh, Matt Penman, Eric Harland and John Santos. I also played a trio set with Bill Frisell and Eric Harland. We played two of the late Paul Motian"s tunes – "Dance" & "It Should've Happened A Long Time Ago" Night two was hosted by Cindy Blackman in honor of the great Tony Williams. She put an amazing set together that highlighted Tony's music and his wide-ranging influence. I had a chance to play with her and Terence Blanchard on an extended version of Wayne Shorter's tune "Footprints". It went all kinds of places! I was also able to explore Tony's tune "Sister Chery" as well. Joshua Redman hosted the tribute to Joe Henderson on the third night. I had a chance to play and hang with Joe on a number of occasions through the years. He was a huge influence for me in so many ways. I loved him and miss being in the room with his incredible sound, ideas, personality and feeling. For this performance, I played in a trio moment with Matt Penman and Eric Harland on one of Joe's favorite Sam Rivers tunes "Beatrice". This tune was also featured on Joe's 1986 release "State of The Tenor" on Blue Note Records. I also joined the beautifully expressive Mary Stalling on "Triste" from Joe's recording with Jobim. Next, Stefon Harris put together a Bobby Hutcherson program that was very hip and memorable. We played together with Bill Frisell on Duke Pearson's tune "Idle Moments", a tune from a Grant Green record that featured Bobby. The final night was focused on John Handy and hosted by Miguel Zenon. John played on many Mingus's tunes and always sounded wonderful. As part of the finale, Joshua Redman and I joined Miguel on John's hit "Hard Work". We rocked the house! It truly was a lovely week that I will not soon forget.
Upon returning to New York I was a part on an amazing concert at Jazz At Lincoln Center – "The Nearness of You" in honor of my close friend, colleague and master musician – Michael Brecker. January 25th was the 10th anniversary of his passing. The performance supported cancer research at Columbia University Medical Center. His beautiful spirit and influence was felt and expressed in a magical way by everyone that participated. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton were in attendance and made the evening an even more special occasion. Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane and I along with Andy Ezrin, Nir Felder, James Genus and Jeff "Tain" Watts played John Coltrane's "India. This was a piece that Mike played along with Dave and I in our group Saxophone Summit from its inception in 1999 until his diagnosis in 2005. I also had the great pleasure to join the expressive and soulful Diana Krall on "The Nearness of You" and "East of The Sun". We had a beautiful exchange of ideas and phrases that were spontaneous each time through, from the rehearsal into our concert performance, these were true jazz moments.
On Saturday, the 28th I played duet with McCoy Tyner at St Peters Church in NYC for a musical celebration of Bobby Hutcherson, produced and hosted by Todd Barkan and Michael Cuscuna. This was an historic concert full of love and passion celebrating a major force in the fabric of American creative music. McCoy and I kicked it off with McCoy's composition "Walk Spirit Talk Spirit" which led into an array of tributes to Bobby and his family from Kenny Baron, George Cables, Mike Ladonne, Joe Locke, Steve Nelson, Bill Ware, Todd Cochran, Steve Davis, Eddie Henderson, George Coleman, Ray Drummond, Buster Williams, Essiet Essiet, John Leftwich, Victor Lewis, Joe Chambers, Billy Drummond & Michael Carvin.
The New York and World Jazz community is amazing. I am so proud to be a part of it. It's been an incredible seven concerts in ten days and I'm flying high. May the blessings of music be with you!